Sunday, 11 November 2012

Open Day at the Abbotsford Convent - includes Sunday slideshow

Full bike racks at the Abbotsford Convent Open Day
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Today my vocal group, Living Out Loud, sang at the Abbotsford Convent's Open Day.  The day was a great example of what happens when a heritage precinct like the Convent is put to good use and opens its doors to the community.  The Convent has many artists in residence and today is an opportunity to meet them, see their work and sometimes participate.  With venues like the "Bishop's Parlour", "Mother Superior's Chamber" every corner turned is a revelation steeped in history and religion.

Convent Courtyard
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We sang in the Convent Courtyard just after 1pm.  The courtyard is home to a big old shady tree, perfect to cluster under on a sunny day like today.  Some people were lounging in the sun and the shade, others were milling and others were purposefully striding towards their next activity.  The crowd was appreciative and we sang well in the relaxed environment.  This is one of my favourite kinds of gigs - relaxed and enjoyable.

Today's performance space
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A glimpse of Juliet
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As we finished, Complete Works Theatre made great use of the space during their Pop Up Theatre performance.  The balcony scene was performed with great gusto and humour, Juliet perched high up on the balcony and Romeo down in the courtyard amongst the audience.  The performers were marvellous and brought the scene and characters well and truly to life.

Drum circle
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After singing, I walked through the grounds on my way home.   Pretty soon I was heading in the direction of an African drum circle.  A handsome man from Guinea was leading the circle with charm and exuberance.  From the outside, it sounded a bit like a rabble and his sharp slaps cut across the muddy sounds.  The circle stopped and some people stood up to leave.  I quickly found a seat, slipped my rings off and took up the djembe that was waiting for me.  There were lots of children paying close attention to the rhythm of the slap and bass.  One tiny little boy perched on a chair and started to immediately hit the drum in time.  His face was red and shiny with sweat and sunscreen under his blue terry towelling hat.  His eyes never left the leader and he picked up the rhythms quickly.

The enjoyment amongst the circle was infectious.  Strangers were smiling at each other.  Parents looked at their children in wonder as they imitated complex patterns and followed instructions, their attention never wavering.

We finished our round and I wandered off towards the smell of a barbecue and the sounds of samba, past some market stalls, stopping off at a garden tap to refill my water bottle.

Abbotsford Convent angles
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Courtyard corner
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Rosina Dormitory building, Abbotsford Convent
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I had caught a taxi from the city to avoid the stress of trying to park and now needed to find a way home. (The taxi driver had no idea where I was going and asked me to direct him.  I reckon there should be a discount if you have to navigate for the taxi driver.)  I walked towards Victoria Street in Richmond.  The street I was on was a mixture of old factories and warehouses, older homes and apartment blocks, as well as funky new buildings.  Big plane trees cast their dappled shade making the walk even more enjoyable.  The peace was broken as I approached Victoria Street.  A Vietnamese music shop was blaring out some kind of Asian pop, smashing the magic bubble I'd been in all afternoon.

I watched the passing multicultural parade as I waited for the 109 tram.  Five tall African girls arrived, carrying numerous plastic bags of shopping and dragging a small boy along.  I assume he was the little brother.  He looked happy enough.  I marvelled at the shape of the girls - looooooong thin legs, compact torsos, long willowy arms, plump backsides, long necks and beautiful faces with their white teeth and eyes flashing when they smiled.

If you're in Melbourne, you don't have to wait for next year's open day to enjoy a day out.  There are regular markets and the cafes and bakery are great to visit.  There's lots of information on their website.  The Good Hustle at the Shadow Electric Bar is on my list, not only for the music lineup, but also for the "meterage" of ping pong tables!

How did you spend your Sunday?  Got any tales to tell?

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